The provision of high-quality, affordable, health care services is an increasingly difficult challenge. It is anchored on the protocol, guidelines and standards which defines the responsiveness of health care delivery system to those in need and the ability to promote mental health wellness. The driving force in improving the performance of health systems is health research. A sound research, in turn, demands the availability of reliable and timely data and information. For the Philippines, the data which truthfully reflects the burden of mental illness is unfortunately scarce. As stated in the WHO–AIMS Report in 2007, the mental health information system of the country does not cover all relevant information in all facilities.

In response, the Department of Health formulated measures to strengthen information systems, evidence and research for MNS disorders. Through Administrative Order No. 2016-0039 dated October 28, 2016, otherwise known as the Revised Operational Framework for a comprehensive mental health program, the Department of Health shall promote and facilitate the conduct of research, monitoring and evaluation that generates relevant and timely information for sound program planning and implementation, policy formulation, service development and financial risk protection. The same issuance intends to establish interconnectedness, collaboration and linkages and other partnership mechanisms between and among different government agencies. Moreover, the “I” component of the A.C.H.I.E.V.E. strategy in the Philippine Health Agenda 2016-2022 equates to “Invest in eHealth and data for decision-making” by mandating the use of electronic medical records in all health facilities and to enable ease of access of researchers to available data.

Moreover, the National Mental Health Program Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 (DOH, July 2016) has included in its coverage the enhancement and strengthening the ability of National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) to address neurological disorders, adolescent mental health, women and children’s protection, rehabilitation, forensic services and other specialized services. As the leading mental health facility, NCMH has been known to provide a comprehensive range of preventive, curative and rehabilitative mental health services. Having been under the Department of Health since about 1987, it has been categorized to be a center for both training and research. It caters not only to patients coming from Metro Manila or National Capital Region but also those who come from different regions of the country.

Consequently, Department Order No. 2017-0042 dated February 27, 2017 directs the development of the NCMH as an Observatory and Reference Center for Mental Health and the establishment of a Mental Health Hub. One essential component of the Mental Health Hub is the establishment of an online system for collecting and using information that aims to show a more comprehensive picture of mental healthcare delivery quality of the country as well as to facilitate the creation of evidence-based policies and practices that can be implemented, monitored and evaluated. A central pool of data will aid the research capacity of the Department of Health both on a national and international level. It will be useful for ongoing or contemplated studies and in turn furthering knowledge of all health professionals. Having a unified information system will make it easier for health and other allied professionals to gain access to information needed for patient treatment and rehabilitation.